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Guide to Impact Investing

This Grantmakers in Health update to their 2011 GIH Guide to Impact Investing shows the growth of the impact investment field, case studies of recent innovative investment techniques and projects, and an appendix on terminology, investment portfolio approaches, and strategies for financing impact investments.







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Changing in Place: The Skillman Foundation, Detroit, and the Good Neighborhoods Initiative — How did a hometown grantmaker conduct and conclude its largest-ever initiative?

The initiative concluded in 2016, ultimately spanning 11 years and involving $122 million in grants, which represented 67 percent of the Foundation’s total grant spending in this time frame. Along the way, the foundation reset its strategy and sharpened its goal — in response to seismic shifts in the local context and informed by indicators of progress. To capture information on the unique challenges facing an embedded funder as it changes program direction, Bob Tobin, senior consultant at Williams Group, interviewed Marie Colombo, Skillman Foundation director for strategic evaluation and learning.





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End-Game Evaluation: Building a Legacy of Learning In a Limited-Life Foundation

Few, if any, of the problems philanthropy seeks to address can be solved within a brief, defined time frame. Limited-life foundations can only strive to move the ball down the field before they sunset, and then enlist others to carry the work forward. This article shares the emerging hypotheses of two foundations, The Atlantic Philanthropies and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation — each four years from sunset — about the opportunities and challenges for evaluation in the limited-life context. The article argues that systematically capturing and sharing knowledge — about programs, as well as social-change methods and grantmaking practices Read more





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Exiting From Large-Scale Initiatives: Lessons and Insights From a National Scan of Philanthropy

This article shares insights and lessons from a research project commissioned by The California Endowment in early 2016 to inform the planning for its transition out of Building Healthy Communities. A guiding framework for exit and sustainability planning is presented as a set of recommendations that relate to issues such as managing relationships between funder and grantee partners during the exit, using the initiative’s theory of change as a tool for decision-making, finding a balance between demonstrable success and equity, and managing the internal processes of the funding organization.





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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Funding relationships begin, and they end. Yet little is known about the effects of foundation exits on the work, the grantees, and the related fields. This article draws on interviews with funders and grantees involved in more than a dozen exits to fill the gaps in what is known about how to exit well. The article discusses four areas where foundation exits present particular challenges and where there are significant opportunities to improve practice — deciding on and planning to exit, funder leadership, clear communication, and final grants — and includes summaries of advice from funder and grantee perspectives.







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Partnership With Government: An Exit Strategy for Philanthropies?

Atlantic Philanthropies’ exit strategy involved a formal partnership arrangement with the Northern Ireland Assembly. This article draws on qualitative data gathered through interviews with key stakeholders — the funder, government officials, and NGOs — and considers the consequences of this approach for sustaining and mainstreaming policies and practices. It also offers both specific and general lessons on partnering with government as an exit strategy.





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The Legacy of a Philanthropic Exit: Lessons From the Evaluation of the Hewlett Foundation’s Nuclear Security Initiative

Although time-bound philanthropic initiatives are a well-established practice, there is still much to learn about effective ways to implement, evaluate, and wind down these types of investments. This open-access article describes the NSI evaluation, how the findings informed Hewlett’s philanthropic approach, and provides a case example of a philanthropic-initiative exit. Key considerations for monitoring and evaluation practices particular to the context of a planned exit are discussed.





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Do Your Homework to Increase Grantmaking Success

When funders develop new grantmaking strategies, they should dedicate time and resources to understanding the needs of the issue or population they want to help, identifying best practices and models that are already demonstrating success, and finding the right partners to help them succeed. Putnam Consulting Group gives six steps to successful funding.





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5 Tips for Community Building through Digital Inclusion

Digital inclusion builds capacity of neighborhood leaders who acquire new digital literacy skills, devices, or internet access, strengthens relationships between neighborhoods, and engages the community through online organizing. Every local context will require a unique approach. However, here are some tips based on experiences at the Housing Partnership that can help get you started.





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Practicing Transparency for Discovery and Learning

Transparency is as much about discovery as disclosure. That’s because the discovery process is how we determine: what we know what we don’t know where we stand what boundaries, if any, exist for a specific topic. Discovery can be a humbling and inspiring experience. Learning is the payoff for investing.







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Change Incubator Story — What Are Some Whys and Hows of Grantee Inclusion?

One of the goals of this program is for the participants to share their experiences with the broader field. See what grantmakers have learned while developing strategies, particularly as it relates to the principles, practices and benefits of grantmaker-grantee partnerships.





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How Can We Prepare for Collaboration?

Because collaboration is hard and messy, many grantmakers and nonprofits are uncertain about the best way to move forward. The first step is to look inward and ensure that the right elements are in place. This piece discusses several steps that grantmakers can take to prepare for any type of collaboration.





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Smarter Grantmaking in Action: GHR Foundation

Co-designing with grantees and partners from Day 1 can lead to stronger collaborations, flexible solutions and more meaningful impact. GHR Foundation is using its design-build approach to engage at three levels of partnership: direct service, systems change, and global platform.







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Why Every Funder Should Consider Participatory Grantmaking

This blog post discusses participatory grantmaking. This type of grantmaking demonstrates a paradigm shift in how funders work with grantees as agents of change in their communities rather than simply as beneficiaries of aid. It goes beyond grantmaking into the importance of advancing public and democratic participation in decision making. In essence, the process itself is part of the impact.











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Vision and Voice: The Role of Leadership and Dialogue in Advancing Diversity, Equity, and inclusion

This year-long study surfaced two key findings for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion — organizational culture is central; and leaders need support from peer networks. The study also surfaced corresponding practical lessons: Leadership, from the CEO in particular, is critical to advance this work. Changing an organizational culture requires leaders to foster an environment that encourages learning. Talking with board and staff about race, sexual orientation, disability, class and other forms of inequality is difficult and complex, but essential. Experimenting is good, particularly when it comes to policies and practices to recruit and retain diverse candidates. Sharing life experiences builds trust. Read more













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Shifting Winds: Foundations Respond to a New Political Context

CEP surveyed foundation leaders about their reactions to the shift in presidential administrations, and the degree to which they were making changes as a result. The report reveals that the reactions and responses of U.S. foundations to the shift in national political context vary widely, but most foundations are changing their practices or shifting their emphases.





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Watch it Now: An Introduction to Integrated Data Systems

This quick video shows how this powerful tool works by linking and leveraging secure information already gathered by public agencies. Participating organizations decide what data to share, where to store this information and how it can be used. This new picture has fewer statistical blind spots, which can help lawmakers and leaders develop smarter policies, programs and strategies for supporting system and community solutions.





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A Date Certain: Lessons from Limited Life Foundations

This report illustrates the ways in which limited life foundations approach spending down in nine key areas, including investing, grantmaking and strategy, and communications. The results show that most leaders of limited life foundations choose to spend down because of the belief that it will lead to greater impact. And though these foundations’ leaders wrestle with a similar set of issues in their work, the interviews revealed that there is no one way to spend down.







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Nonprofit Capital: How to Think Differently about Its Use in Your Organization

This webinar helps participants better understand and work to optimize their organization’s capital structure, identify key sources and uses of capital, and understand how to budget for and monitor capital grants and expenditures over time.







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The Setting Matters: How to Create the Container for Achieving Results

The Casey video, Leading for Results: Creating the Container, shows how the foundation’s results-based leadership faculty create an environment so meeting participants can effectively focus on achieving measurable results.  





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Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing

Existing resources in the field can provide the technical blueprints for making impact investments; by openly sharing its experiences, the Surdna Foundation hopes this report will serve as a case study for others in the philanthropic community who choose to explore impact investing tailored to their mission and goals, and that it will contribute to collective learning in the fields of mission-related investing and family philanthropy.    







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Freedom Funders: Philanthropy and the Civil Rights Movement

This resource includes three approaches that today’s foundations can learn from the Freedom Funders in our ongoing fight to protect civil rights: Grantmakers should intentionally prioritize underserved communities in developing and implementing strategy. They should involve those most affected by injustice, such as by funding organizations committed to grassroots organizing and advocacy. They should utilize tools such as equity analysis to examine structural barriers that keep certain communities from equal life opportunities. Anything less and foundations risk reinforcing the very inequities they claim to address.





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Solutions for Impact Investors: From Strategy to Implementation

In this publication, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors highlight some of the areas in which behavioral economics and innovative organizational and legal structures can be applied to the discipline of impact investing. By describing best practices in transparency, disclosure and rigorous decision making, they also hope to bridge the divide between traditional and social purpose investing.  





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10 Essential Roles of Foundation Board Members

As a board member, how can you make sure you bring your best to the table and bring out the best in your foundation? If you understand and embrace these 10 essential roles, you will help ensure that you are fulfilling your duties with wisdom and clarity — and doing your part to advance your foundation’s mission.





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Nonprofit Collaborations: Why Teaming Up Can Make Sense

For-profit companies have long recognized the value of collaborations. More nonprofits are now looking for the same benefits. A successful collaboration can help a nonprofit: save costs by sharing infrastructure and administrative expenses strengthen programs expand the value proposition for both organizations improve efficiency tap complementary skills and abilities increase leadership skills











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How to Find (or Develop) Impact Investing Deals (webinar)

This impact investing how-to guide is a must for foundations with few or no staff who want to align their investments with their mission. Walk away with a list of resources to explore with your team and grow your knowledge base on the tools available to further your mission.









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Online and in the Office: The State of Technology-Based Learning in the Nonprofit Sector

A survey conducted by NTEN and the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation revealed technology-based learning is a critical way in which nonprofits engage their stakeholders, but many are struggling to realize the cost savings of online learning and many lack the expertise to deliver training more advanced than webinars and videos.  







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Taking the Bull by the Horns: Creating a Culture of Community Leadership

In this video from the Community Leadership Video Catalogue, a staff and board team share their perspectives on Spartanburg County Foundation’s transformation from charity to philanthropy.





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Designing Technical-Assistance Programs: Considerations for Funders and Lessons Learned

Funders use technical assistance (TA) to expand organizations’ capacity, identify solutions to problems, and develop strategies for long-term change. In this article, the authors document considerations for funders in developing strong TA programs, based on their evaluations of two state-based TA programs.







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Who’s in the Room? Who Should Be?

Bringing people together is one of the key roles of philanthropy. It’s important to make sure you have the right people in the room so that the time spent is productive and the outcome is useful for everyone. To ensure you’ve tapped the right players for your next gathering, ask yourself these three questions before you issue invitations: What is our overall goal? What roles are essential to accomplish our goal? How can we make the best use of others?





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Integrated Transactions: An Emerging Focus For Community Development

This paper examines development models that intentionally integrate elements from two or more sectors, the capital challenges inherent in such projects, and the unique role that CDFIs and philanthropy play in overcoming those challenges. This paper focuses on neighborhood-level efforts that go beyond single sector investments that are emerging through partnerships and collaboratives working to deliver community driven solutions. Includes case studies.  







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A Resilient Power Capital Scan

This report, one in a series of reports by Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute on advancing resilient power in low-income communities, seeks to address how foundations can best develop a portfolio of capital interventions—from grants to impact investments— that together would successfully scale up the solar+storage/resilient power market to benefit low-income populations and to advance their missions. It provides a capital scan of foundation opportunities and actions to guide foundation financial support for this market.





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Building and Restoring Civic Capacity: The Obama Administration’s Federal-Local Partnership with Detroit

This report focuses on what the partnership contributed to Detroit’s revitalization efforts and how it helped build local capacity. Initiatives and projects detailed in the report in which The Kresge Foundation was involved include the Blight Task Force, the Detroit Home Mortgage program, creation of the city’s global engagement strategy and attracting support for sustainable recreation at Historic Fort Wayne.





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Climate Adaptation – The State of Practice in U.S. Communities

This executive summary of the report that examined efforts to develop and implement climate-adaptation projects in 17 cities across the U.S. includes findings to key questions, conclusions, and tactical recommendations.    





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Capital and Collaboration – Strengthening Community Investment in Smaller, Postindustrial Cities

To better understand the system of community investment, and with the hope of developing interventions that would permit it to achieve greater scale, efficiency, and impact, the authors developed a framework they called “capital absorption.” This work offers potential routes forward for understanding and addressing need in low- and moderate-income communities in postindustrial cities throughout New England.





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Capital and Collaboration – An In-Depth Look at the Community Investment System in Massachusetts Working Cities

This publication presents the work of the Capital & Collaboration Initiative, a cross-sector effort designed to increase the scale, efficiency and impact of investments in Massachusetts cities of more than 35,000 people (excluding Boston.) The initiative has identified several cross-cutting priority areas for action that are important to achieving their broader goal of transformative change.





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Governance Basics – Board Structure, Committees and Delegation, and Policies and Procedures

This webinar reviews some of the fundamental issues associated with board governance. Topics include: board structure (size and composition); the role of committees and the board’s ability to delegate; and the necessary policies and procedures every board should adopt. 









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Diverse Managers: Philanthropy’s Next Hurdle

This paper outlines best practices with proven results that foundations can use to find and create a diverse and inclusive staff and investment advisory team. Readers will learn how to make the business case for more diverse and equitable strategies and link success in this area with investment results.  





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Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — Message Manual for the Field

This guide will help you communicate with a variety of audiences about the importance of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy and help your organization better achieve its mission. The language can be used as a reference or as a template for preparing materials and presentations.





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Gender Transformative Philanthropy A Case for More Effective Giving

Feminist donors and social justice funders who apply a gender lens undoubtedly share as many differences as similarities. What they do have in common is a passion for gender equality and a commitment to seeking systemic solutions that produce sustainable progress.  





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Philanthropy Scholarship and Practice – Bridging the Divide

Philanthropy scholarship has the potential to inform practice and policy so that societal wellbeing is enhanced and positive change achieved. How can we make this happen? This special feature suggests two possibilities and also documents some successful experiences of knowledge transfer that may serve as prototypes for bridging the divide.







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Grants Management and the Foundation of the Future

Grants Managers Network (now PEAK Grantmaking) looked across the field to better understand attitudes and perceptions about grants management and grantmaking practices. They took deep dives to learn more about foundations that are intentionally moving toward “successful structures” that integrate operations and program for greater impact.





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Data Playbook

A Measured Approach. For purpose-driven organizations, data means more than just numbers and graphs — it is about understanding what more you can do to change lives and strengthen communities. The Data Playbook is designed to help you make sense of the data you already have and to build upon it. In it, you will learn about what data you need; how best to collect it; how to analyze it to meet your needs; how to present it; and how to use it to inform your work and tell your story. Whether you are looking for guidance on how to Read more





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Invest Northwest: Ten-Year Final Performance Review

The experience of developing, launching, managing, and evaluating Invest Northwest has provided important lessons for the Northwest Area Foundation’s and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s mission investing programs. These lessons are also relevant to impact investors and place-based investors. With the fund coming to a close, this report documents these lessons and reflections, as well as the history of Invest Northwest, the fund’s financial performance, and its strong social performance.





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As the South Grows: On Fertile Soil

Selma the wealthiest city in Alabama. Now, it is among the poorest with one of the highest crime rates in the the country for a city its size. The Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation is going to change that. Its leaders are heirs of the legacy Civil Rights Movement leaders left in Selma. The center trains community organizers, develops young leaders and hosts community conversations about Selma’s path toward what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community.”  





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Ideas 42 Report: Nudging for Student Success

Breaking Barriers to Postsecondary Education:  Ideas 42 issued a report in June 2016, sponsored in part by The Kresge Foundation, that presented 16 case studies based on behavioral science that shows how subtle, sometimes hidden barriers can, over time, result in a student not completing a postsecondary degree.





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Handling Conflict During Board Meetings

Since nonprofit board meetings depend on interaction among people with different values, perspectives, and communication styles, conflict is likely to occur. The impact of this conflict, however, largely depends on how it is handled. Use these key tips to manage conflict in your board meetings and ensure that all board members can have candid and productive discussions.











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Foundation Payouts

In the first Alliance Audio series, editor Charles Keidan hosts a roundtable discussion with Angela Kail (Head of the Funder Team, New Philanthropy Capital), Cathy Pharoah (Co-Director of the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy, Cass Business School, City University London), and Jake Hayman (CEO of Ten Years’ Time) on the topic of philanthropy sector payouts. Following on from their pieces in Alliance over the last few months, these philanthropy experts and practitioners discuss the controversial topic of payouts; why they should be imposed, why they should not be imposed, and what they might mean for the sector as it stands at the Read more





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Building Evaluation Capacity

Evaluation is a process that applies systematic inquiry to program management, improvement, and decision making. Evaluation is also used to assess the status or progress of a strategy (i.e., a group of meaningfully connected programs, not just the simple aggregation of multiple programs) or an initiative (a grouping of strategies). Evaluation Capacity is the ability of staff and their organizations to do evaluation. Because evaluation is systematic, it involves proficiency in a particular set of skills.





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Values-Based Grantmaking: Why It Matters

According to a survey of our members and others in philanthropy, we found that, while many believe that grantmaking process and structure very much (65%) or moderately (25%) affect the ultimate success of grants, many grantmakers (41%) believe that assessing and changing how grants are made isn’t a priority. One way PEAK Grantmaking is seeking to encourage members to analyze their practices is by engaging them in conversations on whether their practices reflect the values that are explicit or implicit to their organizations.





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Effective and Emerging Approaches to Mission-Related Investing

This white paper defines mission investing strategies, including: socially responsible investing (SRI); environmental, social, and governance (ESG); mission-related investing (MRI); and impact investing. Readers will also learn more about a nine-point impact investing roadmap with questions to help develop your foundation’s investment strategy.





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11 Essential Practices for Effective Grantmaking

The options for effective grantmaking are more varied today than ever. What used to involve simply making financial gifts to qualified nonprofits now has grown to include public-private partnerships, social impact investing, program-related investing, crowdfunding, and many more avenues for achieving a foundation’s mission. Whether your foundation is just getting off the ground or has a venerated history that’s about to enter a new phase, you’ll have many choices to consider as you plan your way forward.





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Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing

This report charts the journey from the time the Surdna Foundation board of directors and staff began exploring impact investing in 2014 to the decision-making process and experience of implementing impact investing policies. “The Surdna Foundation’s founder, John E. Andrus was committed to inclusion, social justice and sustainability,” said Peter Benedict II, Surdna Foundation’s board chair. “By sharing our experience and some of the lessons we learned in this report this centennial year, we will contribute to collective learning in the fields of mission-related investing and family philanthropy and celebrate these core values.”





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Offshore philanthropy

Organized philanthropy exists because a few individuals are able to accumulate a vast surplus of resources. Given how much good is done with philanthropic donations, it seems ungrateful to look too closely at the source of that money. Yet recent financial data leaks, including the Panama Papers and the earlier HSBC Swiss Files, act like glasses for the myopic—they bring into focus one of the wealth management practices that enables private individuals to hold on to resources. Moreover, a number of named individuals are well-known philanthropic donors. With these revelations, the sector should look hard at the uncomfortable ways in Read more